6 weeks and 700 photos with the Ricoh GR IIIx
As I have mentioned earlier, I like 40 mm lenses. They are not too wide, nor too long, they work surprisingly well for me in many situations.
This “love affair” started pre-covid when I noticed that a person in town sold a 20 mm/1.7 (m43 lens) for a reasonable price. At first, I couldn’t really figure out when and for what to use it, so I continued to use a zoom lens, thinking that “a zoom lens is much more flexible and useful”.
But 10 months ago, I wanted to carry something smaller than my G9, and started to use my GX80 more and more. At first, I used a compact cheap zoom, but it was a bit too slow, so I changed lens and put on the 20 mm instead … and it has stayed on.
The GX80/20 mm combo have worked well, and I’ve taken quite a few photos with it. But, and this is a big ‘but’, the GX80 is a bit heavy and together with the lens it’s not really pocketable. Trying to get something more compact, I then decided to pair the lens with an old GM5 I have. Unfortunately, while lighter, this combo is still a bit clumsy (and the picture quality isn’t as good as the GX80). So, I started to look at various point & shoot cameras, but I couldn’t find one that I really liked … so nothing happened.
I then realised that Ricoh had released a new version of their GR III model, the GR IIIx, with a 40 mm full frame equivalent lens. Very interesting … but why spend a lot of money on something that I already have: a small camera with a 40 mm lens. So, I couldn’t justify buying one.
Then my birthday came, and since it was one of the “big” birthdays, my extended family had pooled together and bought a gift card at my local camera shop … they sure know what I like. This was a chance I was unable to resist, I added some money and ordered a GR IIIx, hoping that it would be a camera I would actually like.
Spoiler: I do.
There are a few things that make the GR IIIx stand out in my mind
- Size and weight. The camera is light and small, it’s pocketable, and I don’t notice it when I have it with me.
- Ergonomics. The GR IIIx is comfortable to hold, it’s easy to use it single-handed, and the controls/buttons are in the right place.
- Picture quality. This was what really surprised me, the quality is much better than I expected. Colors, highlights, and shadows is more or less exactly how I see things.
I’ve used the GR IIIx both when walking around in the forest, and in the city. I spent most of the time trying to learn how it works in different situations, what kind of results I can expect, and how the controls work. Here are a few examples of the result (and yes, all photos have been edited).
Before getting the GR IIIx in my hand, I hadn’t realised that it had a good macro mode. I had not expected that a macro mode on a camera like this would be useful, but it is. A couple of examples:
I’m delighted that the GR IIIx is so easy to use one-handed, here are a couple of photos that I wouldn’t have been able to capture if it had required two hands to operate.
There are several features that I haven’t explored yet:
- Built-in ND filters
- Snap Focus.
- Editing. I don’t expect that I’ll ever use this, I have never used the editing features of any camera I’ve owned. I much prefer editing on my iPad/iPhone.
- Scenes. I’ve only tried a couple of exposures with the “B&W hard” scenes, so I can’t say anything yet.
- And a few other features that I don’t really know anything about yet.
A minor thing that I really appreciate is that the attachment point for the wrist strap is on the lower right, instead of the upper right. This makes it quite comfortable to use a wrist strap, something I commonly use (I recommend “The Cuff” by Peak Design).
There are two possible downsides of the GR IIIx.
- The first is the battery life, this seems to be a major concern of many reviewers. Personally, I haven’t had any problems … yet, but I haven’t had a chance to stress test this (this will happen in a few weeks).
- The more serious issue for me is that there is no viewfinder. I have the typical “old age eyes” which means that I need glasses to be able to read and see things close up, but I don’t need any glasses to drive a car, or walk around in the forest. This means that I find it difficult to read/see stuff on the screen. Two possible solutions exist: buy some cheap glasses that I’m not afraid of breaking, or try the external viewfinder … but it’s expensive, really expensive.
These are the two drawbacks I know of so far.
Would I buy it again?
Yep, without hesitation. I might even consider buying a GR III if I were a dedicated street photographer, or a travel photographer with a need to travel really light. This way I would get both 28 and 40 mm, which together with a smartphone or an iPad would get me a very compact and capable kit.
I’m looking forward to exploring this camera a bit more, especially as an “event camera”. So let’s see what I have to say in 6-12 months.